Trump Just Picked a Dumb Fight with Mitch McConnell

Even as the Trump White House continues to calibrate the right response to the news that North Korea may have miniaturized a nuclear weapon, President Donald Trump started a very public fight with the most powerful Republican in the Senate.

“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so,” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

That Trump tweet came just hours after this one from White House social media director — and Trump confidant — Dan Scavino Jr.: “More excuses. @SenateMajLdr must have needed another 4 years – in addition to the 7 years — to repeal and replace Obamacare…”

Scavino added a link to his tweet of a video of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking at an event in Kentucky on Tuesday — which is what started this all up.

“Our new President, of course, has not been in this line of work before,” said McConnell, according to a local CNN affiliate, which covered the event. “I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
McConnell’s criticism — Trump is a newbie in politics and doesn’t totally get that things move incrementally even in the best of times — seems relatively mild especially compared to Scavino’s response. It’s also a criticism that plenty of Democrats leveled at then-President Barack Obama in the early days of his presidency.

The simple fact is that McConnell was always skeptical that there were 50 votes for any sort of health care overhaul. It’s why he tried to fast-walk the legislation before the July 4 congressional recess so he could move on to tax reform, where he’s said there’s more opportunity for a win.

But, even after McConnell was forced to delay that vote, he continued to push for passage of some sort of health care bill — ultimately coming up a single vote short. It was a swing and miss to be sure, but not, as far as I can tell, as a result of anything McConnell left on the field — which is the clear implication in Trump and Scavino’s tweets.
Beyond the overreaction, what baffles me is whether Trump did this in a fit of pique or whether there was some sort of intentionality or strategy behind it. For the life of me, I can’t figure that one out.

Remember that for everything that Trump wants going forward — tax reform, funding for the border wall, maybe even another shot at health care — he needs McConnell. Badly.  And despite the health care setback, McConnell still inspires considerable loyalty among his colleagues.

Picking a fight with someone: a) you need to get things done and b) people look up to, seems to me to be the essence of playing dumb politics. Maybe Trump (and Scavino) have some sort of grand plan here I don’t see. Always possible! But from where I sit, this was a needless fight to pick that could have decidedly negative consequences on the Trump’s agenda in the future.

[CNN]

Trump renews attack on Democratic senator, calling him a ‘Vietnam con artist’ on Twitter

President Trump on Monday launched a renewed attack on Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), calling him “a phony Vietnam con artist” on Twitter after the senator appeared on television.

Trump’s tweets came after Blumenthal voiced support on CNN for continuing the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election and expressed concern about the Justice Department’s increased focus on rooting out administration officials who leak information damaging to Trump.

“Politicizing the Department of Justice for personal ends, I think, is a disservice to the law, and it’s also potentially a violation of the spirit of the First Amendment,” Blumenthal said, suggesting that the department was “weaponizing” laws against leaking sensitive information.

“Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal,” Trump wrote on Twitter shortly afterward. “He told stories about his Vietnam battles and … conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child.”

Trump was referencing a 2010 controversy over Blumenthal’s military service. During his Senate campaign, Blumenthal came under sharp criticism for repeated remarks over the years that he had “served” in Vietnam, even though he did his full Marine service in the United States.

Blumenthal was granted several deferments between 1965 and 1970 and then joined the Marine Corps Reserve but did not serve in Vietnam. He later said he misspoke and intended to say that he was in the Marine Reserve during the Vietnam conflict.

Blumenthal responded to Trump on Twitter later Monday morning, writing, “Mr. President: Your bullying hasn’t worked before and it won’t work now. No one is above the law.”

In an interview later Monday on CNN, Blumenthal said Trump’s tweets reinforce the need for legislation he is pushing that would prevent the president from firing Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel looking into allegations of Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump’s tweets appeared to overstate what had happened with Blumenthal. NBC News said its analysis found no evidence that Blumenthal had bragged about his Vietnam battles nor that he had cried about the controversy during his 2010 campaign:

“No and no,” a Blumenthal spokesman told NBC on Monday when asked whether the senator had bragged or cried.

Trump returned to the issue later Monday, offering a suggestion to Blumenthal in an afternoon tweet: “I think Senator Bluementhal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there.”

Trump has attacked Blumenthal on the same issue on past occasions.

In February, Trump pointed to the episode in trying to undermine Blumenthal’s credibility after he publicly shared that Trump’s then-Supreme Court nominee, Neil M. Gorsuch, had told him that he found Trump’s attacks on the federal judiciary “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Gorsuch later acknowledged having those concerns.

[Washington Post]

Reality

This isn’t the first time Trump, who himself deferred military service, attacked a veteran.

He once said Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, he said veterans suffering from PTSD “were not strong”, attacked Gold Star parents, and for  four months claimed he donated one million dollars to veterans charities when he only did once he was caught in a lie.

Trump: Dem Senator ‘Should Be the One Who is Investigated’

President Trump on Wednesday morning attacked Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), calling for him to face an investigation over a 2010 campaign controversy about his military service.

Trump took to Twitter to slam Blumenthal shortly after the senator appeared on morning cable news shows to criticize Trump for firing FBI Director Jamed Comey, warning of a “looming constitutional crisis.”

“Watching Senator Richard Blumenthal speak of Comey is a joke. ‘Richie’ devised one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

“For years, as a pol in Connecticut, Blumenthal would talk of his great bravery and conquests in Vietnam — except he was never there. When caught, he cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness and now he is judge & jury. He should be the one who is investigated for his acts.”

Trump was referring to a controversy in Blumenthal’s 2010 Senate campaign in which he admitted misspeaking about his military service.

Blumenthal held a press conference during the campaign to clarify that he had said he served “in” the Vietnam War when he meant to say he served “during” the war, as a reservist and not overseas.

Trump attacked Blumenthal earlier this year over the 2010 controversy, during debate about then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, accusing the senator of a “long-term lie.”

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

Trump once overstated his military credentials telling Don Lemon he received an award in April 2015, saying it came from the United States Marines Corps when it was actually the unconnected charity The Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation.

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